Crosby/Textor: David Cameron’s dark masters of dogwhistle politics

[First published in The Morning Star, 24/11/2012]

Britain teeters on the brink of a “triple-dip recession,” or what non-economists might simply call a depression.

The government’s reneging on council funding has slashed budgets in the most deprived areas by more than 14 per cent, with the promise of more cuts to come.

The cannibalisation of the NHS continues, an unregulated energy and housing market risks people dying in the cold in droves and the Tories’ latest sop to the reactionary law-and-order demographic – the police and crime commissioners – is seemingly the only thing less popular than their own coalition partners.

A lot could happen in the next two years, but none of it looks good.

Which is presumably why David Cameron’s office last week quietly hired Lynton Crosby of the notorious Australian firm Crosby Textor to coddle him all the way to 2015’s general election.

But Crosby Textor are more than campaign strategists. They are sorcerers, summoning humanity’s worst instincts seemingly out of thin air. Read the rest of this entry »

Circling The Welcome Wagons: Refugees & The Con-Dem Cuts

[First published in The Morning Star, 25/06/2011]

The Con-Dem coalition were full of fine words last weekend, as NGOs across the country prepared for the launch of Refugee Week.

“The British tradition of welcoming genuine refugees to this country is a great one, and I hope we continue to show this generosity of spirit in the future,” David Cameron declaimed over the piercing shriek of a Daily Mail dogwhistle.

The PM – who just months ago accused refugee communities of “not really wanting or even willing to integrate” – even sent immigration minister Damian Green to go meet and greet with locals at the Northern Refugee Centre in Sheffield.

Green was of course “delighted” to attend. His hosts may have been less enthusiastic, given they are set to lose literally half their budget and paid staff to public funding cuts in the next three months.

But Green would have been hard pressed to find a warm welcome anywhere: despite Cameron’s talk of tradition, the Con-Dems’ cuts to public services amount to a systematic segregation of refugees and asylum seekers from the society Cameron supposedly wants them to join. Read the rest of this entry »

This Sceptic Isle 2: Electorate Bugaboo

[First published in The Morning Star, 16/04/2011. For my previous piece on immigration and graduate unemployment, see here.]

David Cameron stoked the coals of election-month controversy this week with a brilliant tactic: a carefully crafted stump speech which seemingly blamed immigrants and beneficiaries for each others’ woes.

Yes, the quarterly unemployment rate was 7.8 percent – a drop of just 0.2% since last May, when Cameron took power with “the biggest, boldest, most comprehensive programme of getting Britain back to work any Government has ever introduced”.

And yes, there were still five people out of work for each job advertised — a figure only likely to rise as the public and voluntary sector cuts take effect.

But Cameron sidestepped the obvious explanation – that job creation has been practically nil – in favour of a neat bit of dogwhistle politics, combining fist-in-glove xenophobia with open contempt for unemployed Untouchables. Read the rest of this entry »